Briton leaves Iraq after antiquities conviction quashed


LONDON — A retired British geologist jailed in Iraq for antiquities smuggling has been freed and has left the nation, his household stated Sunday.

Jim Fitton, 66, was sentenced in June to fifteen years in an Iraqi jail. A Baghdad appeals court docket overturned the conviction and final week ordered his launch.

Fitton has now been reunited with household in Malaysia, the place he lives. Son-in-law Sam Tasker stated Fitton arrived at Kuala Lumpur airport on Friday, and the household was “absolutely over the moon.” Fitton missed wedding ceremony for his daughter Leila and Tasker in Could whereas he was imprisoned.

Fitton was arrested in March at Baghdad Airport and charged beneath antiquities legal guidelines that carried the potential of a demise sentence.

His case drew worldwide consideration after he was convicted of choosing up shards of pottery and different fragments from an historic website in southern Iraq whereas on an organized geology and archaeology tour. Fitton instructed the court docket that he had no legal intent, and a number of the items he picked up from an unguarded website had been no bigger than a fingernail.

Many feared the incident would deter vacationers from visiting Iraq, the place the federal government hopes to develop the nascent tourism sector.

Pissed off by perceived inaction on the a part of the British authorities, Fitton’s household began a petition that garnered greater than 350,000 signatures.

Tasker stated the general public help was “evidence that the actions of the many can move the needle in situations like this, you spurred us on when we were struggling to find hope.”

“We as a family will never again doubt the kindness of strangers,” he stated.

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